From My Bookshelf: Alex George

By Lynn Willoughby

Setting Free the Kites ~ Alex George

This novel is something of a coming of age story.  Nathan and Robert meet in the eighth grade and an unlikely friendship forms.  Neither is fearless, they are lonely, friendless and Robert is continually cautious.  No matter – they are inseparable.
There are two family tragedies early on in the book and while each boy struggles with loss they also prop each other up.  The glory and joy of a true friend is never far from the story line and this kept it very real for me.
Yes, there is some teenaged angst, there is the eighth grade bully, there is the beautiful older girl who everyone wants to befriend, there is music, there is laughter, there is joy.  It is the 1970s, a time when kids rode their bikes everywhere, and  parents were not particularly concerned about where the boys were every minute, or what they were doing in their spare time.  In fact, the parenting bordered on being neglectful.  There is the adventure of a first job, a friendship with an old man who is a generous teacher, a gentle friend when needed, a lover of jazz.  There is the clandestine reading of “bodice ripper” books, which the boys don’t understand at all.
I really enjoyed this read.  It is very well written.  It is tragic in so many ways, but I found it filled with nostalgia and relate-able characters.  All too often it was the adults doing the wrong things, which is an interesting twist.  The struggle the boys have is countered by moments of pure joy and exhilaration, often missed in childhood today.
“People go their whole lives without knowing what real friendship looks like, how it feels.  But you do.”
  •  A Good American
  •  Seven Days
…………….and others

Who Knew?

With dogs named Dizzy and Thelonius, you know jazz plays a part in this book.  This type of music developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as American and European classical music mixed with African and slave folk songs.